Inception meets The Magicians, except with better wigs and a maniacal drag queen sorceress attempting to unravel the reality of Connecticut (yes, the state) and replace it with something…well something better than Connecticut. Ryan La Sala’s debut fantasy is an #OwnVoices story following Kane Montgomery, a gay teenager piecing his life back together after an attack robs him of his memories. As Kane searches for who he was, he uncovers a war for the creative rights to reality itself, each battle played out in an imagined world turned real: a reverie. Reveries are worlds born from a person’s private fantasies, and once they manifest they can only be unraveled by bringing their conflicts to resolution. Reveries have rules and plots, magic and monsters, and one wrong step could twist the entire thing into a lethal, labyrinthine nightmare. Unraveling them is dangerous work, but it’s what Kane and The Others do. Or did, until one of The Others purged Kane of his memories. But now Kane is back, and solving the mystery of his betrayal is the only way to unite his team and defeat reality’s latest threat: Poesy, a sorceress bent on harvesting the reveries for their pure, imaginative power. But what use might a drag queen sorceress have with a menagerie of stolen reveries? And should Kane, a boy with no love for a team that betrayed him, fight to stop her, or defect to aid her? Reverie is about the seduction of escaping inwards, about the worlds we hide within ourselves, and the danger of dreams that come true.
Kane has stumbled upon The Others, a group which he was once a part of. This group has powers and can remain lucid during reveries, the magical manifestation of someone's fantasy/dreams that overtakes reality and must come to completion before they unravel it. Otherwise, the world may be destroyed.
As hinted in the synopsis, Poesy is a drag queen whose role is unclear. At first, she seems like a help to Kane, but her plots may be more sinister than they originally seem. With Kane's memories forgotten, the reader follows along with him to understand the past, save the present, and act to save the future.
What I loved: This was a truly unique book, and I was completely enthralled from start to finish. I am not sure I have ever read something like this, and the comparisons all seem inadequate. I loved the characters too- Kane was himself and yet lost. Through his eyes, we explore everyone else. Poesy was probably one of my favorite villains in fantasy for her magical prowess, devious subterfuge, and her lofty speech. She was hard to pinpoint, and I think it made her all the more intriguing.
Add that to The Others who we are unsure whether they are friend or foe, but the reader is still compelled to like, and Dean- mysterious boy- who really comes to life and evolves during the story. Dean is another amazing character, but the whole cast was just really well crafted.
The whole premise was just fantastic too, as people's inner fantasies come to life in incredible, albeit sometimes horrific, displays. The power of such truths and their oddities were really beautifully well done. While some things made you laugh, others made you want to cry- it was fascinating. The world-building here was really amazing. Oh, and also, the LGBTQIA+ representation was really well done, with many characters and beautiful romances.
Final verdict: Overall, this was a truly unique and enthralling fantasy with incredible characters, a well-crafted plot, and great romances. I would definitely love to see more from this talented author. Highly recommend for anyone looking for something completely different in YA fantasy. You won't regret picking up this gem!